History of Cite de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine in Paris

After the Palais du Trocadero had been built for the World Fair in 1878, a few years later under the initiative of Eugene Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, he put together a collection of plaster casts that were installed into a wing of the Palais du Trocadero, and from 1882 it was called the Museum of Comparative Sculpture.

The architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc undertook an extraordinary project to present the public with casts and mouldings of some of the most spectacular monumental treasures throughout France, as he was a restorer architect of Gothic and medieval buildings, and he worked on numerous fabulous building throughout France and Paris, such as the Sainte Chapelle and the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral.

Museum of architecture in Paris

And the desire to form a museum of architecture in Paris was apparent from 1885 with a pupil of Viollet-le-Duc, and under the direction of Camille Enlart, the collections were enhanced significantly from 1903 right through to 1927.
Model architecture for Paris

However, there was much dislike for the original building of the Palais du Trocadero and it was eventually decided that this was going to be demolished and a new building was to be put in its place for the next World Fair to be held in Paris in 1937.  So the museum closed in 1927.

It was then in 1937 that the museum was put into a wing of the new building that was built on the foundations of the original Palais du Trocadero, and this new building was renamed the Palais de Chaillot.  The museum itself was also given a new name of the Museum of French Monuments.

Yet, the mouldings and plaster casts were not the only items on display from this time in the Palais de Chaillot, as the Museum of French Monuments also decided to put in place a section on murals, with copies dating from the 12th century through to the 16th century.  This section was enhanced after World War II and a final gallery of copy murals by Andre Malraux was put in place in 1959.
When it came to wars in France, many original medieval stained glass windows were either damaged or destroyed and a gentleman by the name of Paul Deschamps started a campaign to produce copies of some of the most remarkable stained glass windows found in cathedrals and churches all over France.

And so, another section within the Museum of French monuments was born, but it still does not stop there, as an architect by the name of Henri Deneux has started gathering a wide selection of architectural scale models, which have always been used for years to ascertain certain aspects of construction relative to weather conditions and aesthetics, etc.

In fact, the oldest collection of the models dates from 1900 with a spectacular scale model, and most of the models were gathered even before the new museum in the Palais de Chaillot had even opened.
Sculpted columns inside Cite de l'Architecture

Church sculptures inside Cite de l'Architecture
Unfortunately, there was a major fire within the Palais de Chaillot in 1997 and these museums in Paris including the Musee de l’Homme were closed down, however the Museum of Monuments were working on their collections even whilst the restoration of the building and the museum were in progress.

It was in the 2007 that the newly done museum was re-opened to the public and this time it came under the name of Cite de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, which not only includes displays we have already mentioned above, but also a themed section on more recent architecture, with models from the 19th and 20th century.

And so, the Cite de l’Architecture et du Patriomone, which basically translates to architecture and heritage, is the new museum located within the Palais de Chaillot by the Trocadero Gardens in Paris, and is an unusual yet fascinating museum that depicts much of the history of Paris and France through its buildings and styles throughout the centuries.